Cambodia

Driving Directions Cambodia

CAMBODIA, formerly called Kampuchea, is a southeast Asian state bounded by Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam and its southern coast lie on the Gulf of Thailand. The country was devastated by its involvement in the Vietnam War (1960-75) followed by the brutal regime of the Khymer Rouge under Pol Pot (1975-79) when it thought that as many as two million people killed. Since that time, extreme political instability along with sporadic fighting has hampered development within the country. Cambodia is largely a low-lying country fringed by modest-sized mountain ranges and upland plateaux in the southwest, north, and east. The Dangrek Mountains form the frontier with Thailand in the northwest. The heart of the country is a saucer-shaped basin whose gently rolling alluvial plains are drained by the Mekong river. The western part of the basin is occupied by a large lake, the Tónié Sap (Great Lake).

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About three-quarters of Cambodia is covered in tropical forest and overexploitation of the forests has led to the imposition of a government ban on exports of timber. Wildlife species include some of the rare large mammals of southeast Asia such as the tiger, panther, and elephant. In general, Cambodia has a tropical monsoon climate, and during the rainy season the Mekong river swells and backs into the Tónié Sap, increasing its size threefold to about 10,400 square kilometers or 4,015 square miles. This seasonal flooding means the area is left with rich silt when the floodwaters recede. Crop production depends entirely on this flooding but production was badly disrupted during the civil war, and yields remain low.

The cultivation of rice accounts for about 80 percent of agricultural land, and the other main crop is rubber which grows on the eastern plateau. Despite the gradual rebuilding of its infrastructure in the early 1990s, Cambodia remains one of the world’s poorest nations.

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